Friday, August 13, 2010

A.A.'s Cofounder Dr. Bob & The Core Library

The Dr. Bob Core Library, located at the North Congregational Church on Main Street in St. Johnsbury, Vermont, was established during our two extensive research trips to Vermont a couple of years ago where we sought out the real facts about the upbringing of Bill Wilson and Dr. Bob Smith as youngsters in Vermont. We made two different extended trips to St. Johnsbury.

Dr. Bob was born and raised in St. Johnsbury, Vermont. His boyhood home is still there. His family church--North Congregational Church, St. Johnsbury--is just a block or so away. So are the other frequently unreported and undiscussed sites in St. Johnsbury that figured so prominently in Dr. Bob's excellent training in the Bible and in his Christian upbringing. In all, the sites included the boyhood home, North Congregational Church, the Athenaeum (town libary), Courthouse (where his father was a probate judge), the YMCA building site (though the building was destroyed), and St. Johnsbury Academy where Bob attended and from which he graduated as class orator. His father was an examiner there. And his mother had been a student, then a teacher, then very active in alumni affairs, and also a historian.

Spending lots of time in these historic sites, my son Ken B. and I were able to gather some 2000 manuscripts and papers in St. Johnsbury itself; as well as many books about the Smith family and St. Johnsbury and the important institutions and events there--the Great Awakening of 1875; the Church sermons and officials and Sunday school teachings; the church positions held by Judge Walter Smith as Deacon, Sunday School Superintendant, Sunday School teacher, and member of several committes; the church positions held by Bob's mother Susan H. Smith as head of the school classes, Sunday school superintendent, Sunday School teacher, singer in the choir, historian, and member of many committees; and the church Year Books that marked the participation of the entire Smith family in so many phases of church life. Similar data was gathered as to the Fairbanks Museum, the Athenaeum library, the YMCA, the Fairbanks family and its Fairbanks Scales plant, the courthouse, the Congregational and missionary activities in which the Smiths were involved, and the many details about St. Johnsbury Academy. These and many other important, relevant, Vermont, A.A., Christian Endeavor, YMCA, revival, evangelist, conversion, and activities of the Smiths in the business world, the law, the courts, the legislature, the state library system, the banks, the schools, and Village government, are lodged there now.

But the great news is that some of the most important treasures are on their way. A generous benefactor and Christian A.A. gentleman from Ontario has raised the funds to secure the original printer's manuscript of the important A.A. General Service Conference-approved book--DR. BOB and the Good Oltimers. The manuscript shows many hand-written and other changes that were made prior to publication and uses full names just as the early AAs themselves did. This treasure will soon be in the hands of the benefactor and be preserved and copied by him with one copy to be placed in the Dr. Bob Core Library in St. Johnsbury.

And this is only one of many St. Johnsbury and A.A. historical treasures, now in the hands of Dick B. in Maui, that will be finding their way to the library--now that the DR. BOB manuscript and several other treasures are being acquired and readied by their benefactor.

My son Ken and I were not content with the several thousand historical items already placed in the Dr. Bob Core Library because these new, additional "treasures" should be, and now will be, a part of the historical banquet that awaits Christians, A.A. and Al-Anon members, historians, and writers.

See: Dick B., Dr. Bob of Alcoholics Anonymous: His Excellent Training in the Good Book as a Youngster in Vermont (

Also The Dick B. Christian Recovery Guide, 3rd ed., 2010 (available on

Also our new class "Introductory Foundations for Christian Recovery" ( for many more details about Dr. Bob and his role in the founding of A.A. This class can also now be obtained through Dick B.'s website

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